Chapter 1: in space no-one can hear you moan (mae/sin)
Sin's fuel ran out about three klicks above the secondary shipyards on Watford Minor, but her ship was a sweet, light thing that glided into the docks as easily as a feather - a few minor scrapes down the port hatchway hardly counted. And anyway it didn't matter; two hours later she was grinning and walking jauntily out of Piper's, her latest cargo offloaded and a satchel of unmarked credits swinging over her shoulder.
Watford was a shit little moon off a shitty little planet, but the shipyards were full of shady operators particularly suited to Sin's unique profession, and after she'd got her ship checked over and refuelled she headed straight down to the bar on C Causeway to celebrate. The front room was mostly empty but there was a pretty young thing sitting at the bar who looked promising, so Sin just ordered a double shot of B and sat herself down on the corner lounge, legs stretched out casually in front of her. Sin had fabulous boots - and fabulous calves too, for that matter - and she wasn't surprised to see the girl glance over her way a few times, looking shy and out of place. Pink hair, cheap skirt, too much jewellery - she looked exactly like a schoolgirl, just bold enough to get herself into trouble but too ignorant to get herself out of it. And pretty too, all soft red mouth and rounded curves and dimples. Sin smiled.
She gave it fifteen minutes and then sashayed over to the girl, taking her time about it. Sin knew how hot she looked in this dress; the woman she'd stolen it from certainly paid enough for it. She leaned in a little too close to the girl's ear, watching her shiver, and opened her mouth to ask her if she wanted a drink - and then froze.
That was definitely a gun strapped to the girl's thigh. And all that cheap, dangly silver jewllery was hiding a truly astonishing amount of sophisticated technical equipment, equipment that certainly wasn't standard issue for school girls. Well, shit. Mentally, Sin mapped out the exits, ready to run - she already knew where the door was, and the best route to get to her ship, but it was always best to be prepared.
But the girl glanced around them, grinned secretively - and winked.
"You're Sin, right? I'm Mae. The Ryves brothers sent me, the Circle's been gaining a foothold in the Newcastle Alliance, and we knew you're the only person who could get through to them in time."
Sin frowned, suspicious. "I'm a freelancer, I don't get involved in politics."
"Alan told me you'd say that," Mae said, grinning again. "He said to tell you that the moon's in the northwest and the red tree is flowering." Sin relaxed. "Also, there's a Circle cruiser coming through the sector next week that could give us a very good payout if we catch up with it in time."
She smirked. "What are we waiting for, then? My ship's this way." As they headed out toward the door, Sin let her eyes linger on Mae's ample cleavage; after all, the runaway-schoolgirl disguise was doing nothing to disguise it. Mae caught her eyes and smiled wickedly.
It was four days to Newcastle, but Sin was pretty sure they'd find a way to pass the time.
Chapter 2: sweet (jamie/nick)
Nick froze in the doorway of the kitchen, staring in horror.
"I think that's the most disgusting thing I've ever seen."
"What?" asked Jamie, turning around. His mouth was red and sticky. "Excuse me, knives and blood and dead people are disgusting. You have a problem - oh wait! You do have a problem. So many problems, actually."
Nick blinked. "And the fact that you are sitting there eating jam with a spoon isn't a problem?"
Jamie stuck his chin out defiantly. "Jam is sweet and delicious! You can't argue with that, I am so right." He laughed when Nick made a horrible face. "No, really! Come here and try it."
"I'd really rather get my toenails ripped out," Nick said, conversationally.
"Yes, yes, you are a giant demonic freak, we know," Jamie said, waving the spoon dangerously. "Come on! Be brave! You never know, you might like it,"
Nick smiled slowly. "You are good at suggesting new things, I suppose."
Jamie grinned broadly when Nick stalked over towards him. But Nick didn't go for the spoon; instead he kissed Jamie, slow and careful.
His mouth tasted sweet.
Chapter 3: five ways (not) to say i love you (sin/nick)
Nick never gives her flowers, or chocolates, or any sweet little presents. She doubts he's ever once realised that some people do these things for one another.
Nick never takes her anywhere. Sin used to date a guy who would take her to decaying fairgrounds, to tiny woods with bluebells growing, to old charity stores where Sin could find the most beautiful flowing dresses. The best times she spends with Nick are the times when no-one is injured. Where no-one dies.
Nick doesn't ask Sin about herself, about her day, her life, her family, the things she loves. Her favourite colour is a deep rich purple, she likes dresses and red wine and post-punk (Siouxsie is her favourite, except for when she's happy and alone and dancing around to Depeche Mode) and Nick will never know this about her, not ever.
Nick doesn't watch movies, with Sin or alone. They bore him. He doesn't understand.
Nick's never going to tell Sin that he loves her. She doesn't think he knows how to say the words. But it doesn't matter, not really.
Sin knows anyway.
Chapter 4: documentation (alan/gerald)
Alan leaves traces of himself everywhere he goes. In coffeeshops where marks of prosperity and protection are etched in tiny marks underneath saucers, in city parks where simple charms made of dried flowers and raven feathers hang from swingsets and slides. Gerald tracks him through ads in the personal section of local papers (I'm interested in the paranormal, call me if you're having strange dreams), through online bidding wars for strange artefacts, in second-hand bookshops where the staff apologetically describe the nice young man who, three weeks ago, cleared out their entire stock of Ancient Near East texts. Gerald is always a step behind, but it doesn't matter. Alan isn't running as fast as he used to.
Alan's trail is an invitation. One day, Gerald knows, he will catch up.